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WARD'S WORLD: Farm visit was 'snow' joke

We recently saw the appearance of that stuff that can usually be found depicted on Christmas cards called snow, white in colour, cold in texture and perhaps the best place for it – on cards.

It did remind me of an adventure, happening or cause for concern (tick one but not all of those three descriptions) in my gainful employment in the tyre fitting world some years ago at a time when snow was then about.

Due to the weather conditions we as a tyre company suffered an abnormal amount of calls from people in distress.

Columnist John Ward (44454741)
Columnist John Ward (44454741)

I got the ‘short straw’ so to speak as I got the job/mission to go and repair a possible puncture in a tractor rear tyre.

I say ‘possible’ as the lady who rung in from their farm explained in basic technical speak: “Well, my David has asked me to ring you people to tell you his tractor tyre, a back one, is flat but only at the bottom as the top bit looks okay, so can you come to fix the bottom bit please.”

She was back almost as soon as I put the telephone receiver down – she rang back to explain her David ‘had tried puffing it up (trying to inflate it) but it ain’t having it so it’s still there but it’s only the bottom bit that is flat’

I walked to my truck about half past nine but kept an eye on the office to see if there was another ‘update’ but none seemed to happen so I drove off to Flat-At-The-Bottom Farm as the snow was still coming down.

I got there okay but saw other vehicles in assorted ditches along the way that had seemingly had their journeys interrupted or halted which made me more weather cautious.

On eventually getting to the farmhouse door I was directed by the voice on the phone to the shed where the tractor was.

I drove round to the shed to be confronted with a very large tractor with huge wheels with one looking a bit poorly to say the least, so first job to jack it up.

These were rare vehicles then but now quite common.

I realised that getting the tyre off the wheel or part way would be a job and half – in the event, it took over three hours or so to achieve that greatness to find that it had suffered a side impact but on the inside of the wheel where normally it wouldn’t be seen.

Next was repairing the inner tube which was straight forward although due to the cold weather it took a while to cure (stick) but it did eventually.

Next up was that voice again: “Are you still here, young man?,” as that lady stuck her head around the shed corner.

I replied yes as the lady of Flat-At-The-Bottom Farm asked would I like a cup of tea to which I nearly shouted “YES, please!” at the very thought of something warm.

Next problem was repairing the offending tyre– I would point out that it was that big I could actually, on a warm day possibly, have sat inside it to repair it.

While I was thinking of the best way to sort it from the practical side, the lady of Flat-At-The-Bottom Farm’s son David appeared.

“It’s a big un, init, lad,” he said. His mum had called me ‘young man’ and now I was being called ‘lad’.If I met anybody else there, I could be demoted to living in a pram at this rate.

I agreed with David that it was indeed ‘a big un’ in technical jargon as I sort of knew what the next bit would be.

“Of course it IS repairable as we can’t afford a new one as they cost a small fortune you know...”

Yes, I did know as I sort of expected to hear that plus why he had suddenly appeared although to his credit there was no violin accompaniment.

It was agreed – he told me – that before ‘such drastic action’ (!) that I should, no, would, do my level best to repair it.

Then the lady of Flat-At-The-Bottom Farm appeared with a hot cup of tea with a comforting word about her not knowing if I would like a biscuit with it or not, so she didn’t bother bringing any out anyway – so sorted then.

I inspected the tyre as once the mud was cleaned off, I thought it was repairable and got out the biggest gator (techie speak here but a ‘big boys’ puncture patch of sorts in those days) in my ‘box of tricks’ and then prepared the tyre to accept it.

Due to the sub zero temperature I just about got the tyre ready to receive said gator but the only thing missing was, to make the job as near perfect as possible under such conditions, that thing called heat in whatever controllable form to make it adhere.

A walk down to see the lady of Flat-At-The-Bottom Farm to see what she might have about the house started off by offering a paraffin blow lamp, but there was no paraffin for it so we eventually settled on her electric iron.

Due to the distance from the nearest powerpoint – her kitchen – to the shed, it took three extension cables joined up.

To say there was a sort of voltage drop due to the sheer length (not recommended by the way) of this cable might explain that it took about 20 or so minutes for the iron to actually get all excited and warm up.

So there I was, surrounded by snow but half sitting/wedged inside a large tractor tyre, ironing a large patch on the inside of said tyre andI perhaps thought at the time, possibly, does life get any better than this?

Before I mentally came up with an answer to that one, the lady of Flat-At-The-Bottom Farm wandered in to ask: 1 – was I finished with my cup and, 2 –when could she have her iron back as she wanted to iron her David’s shirts?

I did suggest she drag her ironing board up and she could do it alfresco as the shed being a sort of ‘lean to’ construction, she could have the corner and wouldn’t interfere with me doing my finishing touches. She didn’t think this a good idea so agreed to wait until I had finished.

The end result, the repair worked and they went on to do another few years work I was told later by David whom I saw on another job.

The family is now long gone but whenever I drive past I always remember that cold, snowy day and the lady of Flat-At-The-Bottom Farm who did tea but no biscuits.

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